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Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho could not have done any more than Kevin Watson to land Ebbsfleet United job says Tristan Lewis

ByMatthew Panting

Assistant manager Tristan Lewis has been singing the praises of new Ebbsfleet boss Kevin Watson.

Lewis has worked alongside Watson for the past three weeks at Stonebridge Road after Garry Hill's departure.

Tristan Lewis, left, alongside new Ebbsfleet boss Kevin Watson. Picture: Matthew Walker FM20783988
Tristan Lewis, left, alongside new Ebbsfleet boss Kevin Watson. Picture: Matthew Walker FM20783988

After an improved run of results and performances, Watson was given the job on a permanent basis following Saturday's 2-2 draw with Chesterfield in the National League.

And Lewis believes that even Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola or former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho could not have done any better.

"I said to him before the game on Saturday that I don’t think Jose or Pep could have done any more," said Lewis.

"I’d never met the players before I turned up for that first game against Maidenhead, I was literally looking at the programme to see who’s who.

"We’ve worked hard since then on the training pitch and everyone who has asked me since then how has Kevin been, I’ve said from my point of view he’s a players’ manager.

"The way he deals with the players I’ve been really impressed with. It’s my first time I’ve seen him in this capacity.

"If I was a player then I’d certainly want to play for him.

"You look at the attitude of the lads on the pitch and the change in results and it is clear to see they are playing for him and we all wanted him to get the job."

Lewis believes Watson's confidence in his squad has helped improve their confidence - with the performance of back-up keeper Harry Palmer in last week's win at Chorley a prime example.

"I’ve known Kevin since I was a coach at Reading and he played in the first team," added Lewis.

"The way he speaks to the players and the honesty he gives the players and explains the decisions is important from a player’s point of view.

"He has been honest with Harry, been honest with Jordan Holmes, and all the players.

"I think that gives them confidence and so it was no surprise about Harry. Although we won 4-0 at Chorley on Tuesday night, he made a save in the first half that won us the game."

Ebbsfleet's Gozie Ugwu celebrates scoring against Chesterfield. Picture: Sean Aidan FM20700505
Ebbsfleet's Gozie Ugwu celebrates scoring against Chesterfield. Picture: Sean Aidan FM20700505

It's not just Watson that Lewis is enjoying working alongside.

The former Welling, Billericay and Maidstone coach is helping to bring the best out of Fleet striker Gozie Ugwu, who has netted five goals in his last three matches.

"I worked with Gozie when he was at Reading and I’ve tried to sign him at every single club I’ve been at," said Lewis.

"The day we came in I said that I know what you’re capable of. He is one of them that needs an arm around him and belief given to him.

"He has the potential still to be a great player. He is a great kid and works really hard. I’ve known Gozie since he was a kid so it's nice for me to finally have him in a team. He is going to get better.

"I felt for Alex Reid who didn’t get his goal (against Chesterfield) but kept working. There’s four forwards here, three of them are getting their opportunities at the minute and they are pushing each other – and that’s what you want.

"I have to give credit to Josh Umerah who was exceptional when he came on. When you have people come off the bench you want them to have an impact."

Reflecting on the draw against Chesterfield, Lewis added: "It was a basketball game at times. The conditions weren’t easy.

"At the end you’d say it was a point gained but in the dressing room after there was a tinge of disappointment which says a lot about the three weeks we’ve had and the expectations have maybe changed. After the week we had with the travelling, you’d take a point.

"When we came in the team had 10 points and were bottom of the league, every point is one gained ultimately but we’re disappointed that we’ve conceded a sloppy one from a foul that didn’t need to be given and then a free header in the box.

"If we can fix those things and work on those weaknesses then there’s plenty here to move up that table."

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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